“When people think of Victorian photography, they sometimes think of stiff, fusty portraits of women in crinoline dresses, and men in bowler hats,” says Phillip Prodger, head of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery. “Victorian Giants is anything but. Here visitors can see the birth of an idea – raw, edgy, experimental – the Victorian avant-garde, not just in photography, but in art writ large. The works of Cameron, Carroll, Hawarden and Rejlander forever changed thinking about photography and its expressive power. These are pictures that inspire and delight. And this is a show that lays bare the unrivalled creative energy, and optimism, that came with the birth of new ways of seeing.”
“People say that John was brilliant but tricky, but he was only difficult if you were being mediocre,” says Sacha Lehrfreund, John Reardon’s long term partner and one-time colleague. “In a professional capacity he wanted to be excellent. He pushed it beyond a point that was comfortable for lots of people, but he made you better than you might otherwise be.”
“John Reardon was an artist,” says Greg Whitmore, picture editor of The Observer and another former colleague. “You can see it the photographs of Handsworth cricket fans, the Kosovan woman and baby, the portrait of Fergus Henderson…John was one of the greats of his generation.” John Reardon, a celebrated photojournalist who went on to shoot equally celebrated celebrity portraits for The Observer, has died aged 66.
Peter James was an instrumental figure in British photography, establishing an outstanding collection of photography at the Library of Birmingham over his 26-year career at the institution, and researching and curating exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Galley, the Library of Birmingham, and many more. He was also a modest and affable man, universally known as Pete and as at home over a curry as in a lecture hall delivering an academic paper. As Hilary Roberts, research curator at the Imperial War Museum, put it in a tribute on James’ Facebook page: “Pete has been a wonderful friend and exceptional colleague for more years than I can remember. His contribution to the world of photography cannot be overstated. It was a privilege to work with him and I will miss him more than I can say.”
“What I experienced and witnessed in most families was a really strong sense of well-being and love towards each other, because it’s tough out there,” says Sian Davey, whose latest photoseries, Together, is about to go on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London ahead of an international tour. The photographer, who is already known for photographing her own family, was compelled to start a project that celebrated modern, diverse families after separating from her partner and seeing first hand how it affected her own family.
Refugees and robots feature in the shortlisted images for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, which is organised by the National Portrait Gallery.
National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize innovates again by opening up the world-famous competition – with a £15,000 prize – to digital entries, as previous winners discuss how their careers took off despite the award’s ongoing controversial reputation.
This fascination with the familiar isn’t a new phenomenon, says Phillip Prodger, head of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery and a former judge of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. “We live in a world of the free exchange of imagery and social media and perhaps the photographs that once were considered more private aren’t considered so private anymore. I think people have been making those photographs all along but perhaps not sharing them in that way.”
Early 20th-century surrealist photographer Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and contemporary artist Gillian Wearing come together in The National Portrait Gallery’s ambitious new exhibition, Behind the mask, another mask. The exhibition includes 100 works by the two artists who, despite being separated by 70 years, have “extraordinary links” according to curator Sarah Howgate, in an interview for the March 2017 issue of BJP. “Although their trajectories as artists are markedly different, many parallels can be drawn between their work,” she says. The exhibition – the result of a “light-bulb moment” at a round-table meeting of NPG directors – addresses themes of gender, masquerade and performance through images that often involve the artists dressing up and wearing masks to portray a character or communicate a message. In an early Cahun self-portrait the photographer is dressed as a ‘dandy’, for example – a young man with a shaved head and a neatly pressed black suit, complete with a handkerchief tucked into the breast pocket. The show explores “Cahun’s transformation from young girl to gender-neutral figure”, explains Howgate. Cahun, a contemporary of Man Ray who was born Lucy …
Each year the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition opens at the National Portrait Gallery, showing off the shots that most impressed the judges in this prestigious worldwide prize. Since 2015 the gallery has also hosted a simultaneous In Focus exhibition, highlighting a new body of work by an internationally established photographer. Last year, the honour fell to Pieter Hugo; this year, Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel will present images exploring the sex industry in Brazil’s capital Rio de Janeiro. As one of the main prostitution hubs in Latin America, Rio has seen the business flourish in recent years – particularly with the added attraction of the Fifa World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Rather than focusing on the prostitutes, de Middel homed in on their clients, placing a small ad in the local newspapers in June 2015, asking them to come forward and take part in the project. “I was surprised by the response, but Rio is a very relaxed city when it comes to sex,” says de Middel. “There is …
David Stewart is this year’s winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 for his group portrait of his daughter and her friends. The National Portrait Gallery presented the £12,000 award to the London-based photographer last night at the awards ceremony. The winning portrait Five Girls 2014 depicts the distance between a seemingly close group of friends, and mirrors a photograph he took of them seven years ago, which was also displayed in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2008. Stewart says about the photograph: “I have always had a fascination with the way people interact – or, in this case, fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls. While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.” Second prize has been awarded to Hector, Anoush Abrar’s photograph of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid; third prize has gone to Nyaueth, Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman …